The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Cinema] - WE’RE ALL GOING TO THE WORLD’S FAIR | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Cinema] - WE’RE ALL GOING TO THE WORLD’S FAIR

We’re All Going to the World’s Fair review
A lonely teen takes part in a sinister online challenge.

Review by Sue Finn

Directed by: Jane Schoenbrun

Starring: Anna Cobb, Michael Rogers

We’re All Going to the World’s Fair poster

Casey, teenage vlogger and attic-bedroom dweller, takes part in something called "The World’s Fair Challenge."

It involves saying "I want to go to the world’s fair" three times, then pricking your finger and watching a specific online video (which, when Casey takes part, we only see reflected on her face, and her reaction to it).

Afterwards, she wakes "changed."

We’re All Going to the World’s Fair review

She starts to research whether other people have had the same response, and is horrified to find that there are a myriad of post "world’s fair challenge" reactions, and none of them are good.

One night, while watching a video that is a full five minutes of someone stroking the screen and saying "go to sleep, go to sleep" over and over again (strangely hypnotising), someone who’s been following her vlog makes contact with her.

The older man, called JLB, wishes to warn her about the dangers of the challenge while also encouraging her to continue the videos she posts online.

When they Skype the next day, Casey explains that she feels like she is turning into someone else. JLB, self-proclaimed fan of Casey and expert on the challenge, seems less like a friend and more like a groomer in the insidious way he ingratiates himself into her life.

The rest of the runtime details the developing "friendship" between the teenage Casey and the middle-aged JLB as she slowly succumbs to the "changes" that are taking place.

We’re All Going to the World’s Fair review

This directorial debut by writer/director Jane Schoenbrun is a hard film to review as I’m not sure what the director hoped to achieve; it is a frustrating mixed bag that combines viewpoints and fails to continue in the POV/found footage genre that it seemed to start in. I'm unsure if this is about mental health, online grooming or just growing up, as the themes are disjointed and pacing is stop/start the whole way through.

The best aspect of this movie is easily Anna Cobb as Casey, who is wholly believable in a demanding role. When you consider this is her film debut and she is in almost every scene, her achievement cannot be understated. Though the film itself is unsteady, it is on firm footing with this casting. Michael J Rogers also gives a well-rounded performance as JLB.

The wintry landscapes add a sense of isolation to what already appears to be a very lonely story; but that sense of dread that you want with this kind of movie is lacking. Ending the narrative with the wrong protagonist also feels like an error. This film seems to take great pleasure in stretching out a scene beyond interest and wasting opportunities to explain moments so that they hit harder. It's as if Schoenbraun had a good idea but had no clue how to execute it; everything is touched on so lightly that nothing makes an impression. They name check Paranormal Activity a few times in this film, and to be honest, it really just made me want to watch that movie instead – I know that would guarantee me a good scare.

We’re All Going to the World’s Fair review

Topically using an online challenge (remember the ice bucket challenge? The Tide Pod one? The toilet seat-licking one? Yeah, a lot of people are pretty stupid online) is a great concept for a horror movie, one that we are all familiar with and ready to jump onboard with, but it has to have a purpose.

This is arty and has a nice aesthetic, but it lacks a narrative drive and a tangible story arc.

Barely a horror, at only 86 minutes long, it drags.

I wish I liked this more.

We’re All Going to the World’s Fair is in UK cinemas from April 29th and on Digital Download and limited edition Blu-ray from May 9th.